The Winking Attorney

It’s always nice to be able to a face to a name. That’s why I have my little picture there on the right, and it is why I have my little picture on my posts over on Law School Discussion (which, since the upgrade, has been giving everyone a default image of a llama – I need to figure out how to change that.)
Law firms also seem to be fans of showing off their attorney’s faces. All but the smallest firms’ websites I’ve looked at have a little professional biography on each attorney, and most are complete with a picture. Not all of the pictures wink* though.
*I originally had a link here that was the whole point of the post, but there are rumors (see comments) that that site was trying to infect visitor’s computers with a virus. If anyone is investigating this, the link was – but be warned.

Harrier Jet Case

There was a comment about the Lexis points that compared them to the famous Harrier Jet case. The story goes like this: Pepsi made a television commercial advertising their Pepsi Points promotion. As consumers collected Pepsi Points, they could turn them in for various items. At the end of the commercial, a student arrives at school in a Harrier Jet, and the words “HARRIER FIGHTER 7,000,000 PEPSI POINTS” are displayed on the screen.
Someone actually scraped together 7,000,000 points and tried to get the jet. Pepsi wouldn’t comply and found themselves as a defendant in federal court.
The court explains the commercial in detail:

The three boys gaze in awe at an object rushing overhead, as the military march builds to a crescendo. The Harrier Jet is not yet visible, but the observer senses the presence of a mighty plane as the extreme winds generated by its flight create a paper maelstrom in a classroom devoted to an otherwise dull physics lesson. Finally, the Harrier Jet swings into view and lands by the side of the school building, next to a bicycle rack. Several students run for cover, and the velocity of the wind strips one hapless faculty member down to his underwear. While the faculty member is being deprived of his dignity, the voiceover announces: “Now the more Pepsi you drink, the more great stuff you’re gonna get.”

The cite is Leonard v. PepsiCo, Inc., 88 F. Supp. 2d 116 (S.D.N.Y. 1999). Or you can just click here. The description of the commercial is well worth it.
Now, lets hypothetically imagine that Lexis and Westlaw offered the Harrier Jet. Based on a sticker price of $23.7 million, it would take about 1.15 billion Lexis and Westlaw points to buy one. If only these points were transferable…

Law School Discussion Update

I spent many hours working on Law School Discussion this weekend. I’ve had access to an SQL database on my new server for quite a while, so I thought it was time I finally upgrade a database driven board.
The site doesn’t look much different, but it should be much faster than before (strangely, I haven’t noticed a speed increase from my computer – but maybe there are some adjustments I can make to speed things up). I’ll be working out some of the kinks over the next couple of weeks.
Despite staying up late and getting up early, my studies got the better of me this weekend. I leave the site half done, but I go to class prepared (for the most part).

Sushi Memo

A few months ago, a partner at Paul Weiss ate some bad sushi. She gave a paralegal the assignment of researching the sushi restaurants in the area and reporting back. What followed was a formally written three-page memo, complete with footnotes. The memo has surfaced in recent days, and has been getting passed around law firm inboxes.
The New York Times covered the story yesterday, but Gawker has the memo.
If I ran a firm I would never let this sort of thing happen. The footnotes are not in Bluebook format!

Lexis and Westlaw Points (the exciting conclusion)

When you think about Lexis and Westlaw points in dollar terms, it becomes pretty clear that they’re essentially worthless. Nevertheless, a few bucks tend to be worth the effort of a few clicks for the average law student.
My calculations did not take into account the special promotions and contests that both Lexis and Westlaw offer. Someone pointed this out in the comments on the first day of this little project. I shouldn’t overlook the possibility of winning points. First year I won $210 in gift certificates from Westlaw. Since then I’ve won some points now and then, but not too frequently. I almost wonder whether either service favors younger students (to get them hooked) any evidence?
I don’t think Lexis even had a point system during my first year (I’m a 3L), but I did notice that Westlaw points became a lot less valuable sometime this year. I traded in 5000 points for a cordless phone at this time last year. The same phone is now 7800 points.

In any case, whatever law students “earn” by using Lexis and Westlaw, we surely make up for it in our professional lives by using the services at huge expense (within the first week of our professional lives? first day? first hour?). Of course, we’ll likely use one service or the other regardless of any prizes we receive in law school, so I guess the only value in giving this stuff away is to sway the lawyer from one side to the other when she has a choice between the two services.

The Value of a Westlaw Point

Westlaw offers a much more limited selection of prizes than Lexis, but it’s harder to calculate the value of a point because many (most?) of the prizes are not readily available at finer online retailers. Nevertheless, I’ve found a good selection of items and created another handy chart. Like yesterday’s chart, you can download the data for a better view.

Westlaw point values are not as consistent as Lexis points, but this makes sense because they’re not linked to Amazon dollars. The points range from a low of about $0.015 (if you exchange them for a coffee grinder) to a high of about $0.025 (if you exchange them for an electric dart board). The highest values come from casebooks, gift certificates, and expensive items. If you’re trying to get the most bang for your buck (er, point), you should save up.
Like with Lexis points, you’re going to have to do a lot of saving and a lot of logging out. (Unlike Lexis, you get points for remembering to log out – not to log in, but at least Westlaw gives you the points regardless of whether you go to the “lawschool.” page or the main page.)
If you log out the maximum of 7 times per week, you’ll “earn” approximately $1.40 worth of points.
Tomorrow: Conclusions (and I think another chart is in order)

The Value of a Lexis Point

There are four different types of things that can be purchased with Lexis points: (1) things from Amazon, (2) gift certificates, (3) study guides, (4) other items from Award Cafe. The points have roughly the same value everywhere, but sometimes they’re worth a little more than others. I looked up a bunch of products on Amazon to find that points used for electronics are worth slightly less than for anything else. Points used for gift certificates are always worth more than those used at Amazon, and gift certificates worth more than $10 always provide the same value. (Though the $10 ones aren’t as good of a deal, they’re still worth more than Amazon items.)
“Study Guides” (the only guides offered are the Understanding Series) are the best value, and the “other items” available through the Award Cafe seem to be the worst.
Here’s a value graph of several items. You can also download the data here.

As you can see from the chart, each Lexis point is worth about $0.015 – $0.017, with points used for study guides worth a little more. If you don’t want a study guide, the gift certificates are the best value, or so it would appear…
However, I think that the Amazon items are probably as good a value as the gift certificates because my prices in this chart don’t account for shipping, which is included when Lexis points are used.
In any case, Lexis is paying about $1.19 per week to students that log in every day. That’s a pretty low figure.
Westlaw calculation tommorrow…

The Value of Lexis and Westlaw Points (Introduction)

In a shameless effort to promote use of Lexis and Westlaw amongst law students (so the students will pay a premium for these services later in their professional lives) both companies offer incentives to students in the form of contests and points.
The more one logs in to each service, the more points that student “earns”. Both services award 10 points for every log-in, and both services limit the point-earning log-ins to a 7 per week. Thus, with the exception of special promotions and contests, each law student in the country can “earn” 70 points per week on each of Lexis and Westlaw.
I’ve had a lot of discussions about the value of a Lexis or Westlaw point. Everyone I’ve talked to seems to have a different impression of the most valuable way to spend the points. I decided sit down and figure out what these points are actually worth. I’ll be reporting my findings over the next few days. Stay tuned…